My Spouse Died; What is Probate and Settlement?

The Andersen Firm, A Professional Corporation

The passing of a spouse is a devastating time in a person’s life and one that throws their world into turmoil. While in the midst of grieving, they’re confronted with a multitude of responsibilities requiring their attention — not only the immediate tasks of preparing for memorial services and notifying family and friends, but also beginning to tackle the requisite legal notifications and financial changes.
Estate Probate and Settlement

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Estate Probate and Settlement can be overwhelming. Investment News’ recent article entitled “When a spouse passes away” provides some thoughts on how to prioritize the essential responsibilities, so grieving spouses aren’t overwhelmed with the number of tasks involved. This can include contacting insurance companies, Social Security, Medicare and banks, along with the funeral planning and dealing with family needs.  The Andersen Firm is here to help you when you are ready.

  1. Don’t go it alone. Get some help from your siblings, children, or friends. It is a stressful time, so don’t be afraid to recognize when you need help and assign some of the jobs. In most cases, family members will want the opportunity to help. This lets them participate in honoring the person you’ve lost and ensure that all responsibilities are fulfilled. It can include contacting family and friends and helping prepare for the funeral.
  2. Don’t rush. There are just a few things you need to accomplish within the first week, like planning for funeral services, looking into veteran benefits, if applicable, notifying friends and family and requesting 5 to 10 death certificates from the funeral home. That is because each financial institution or insurer will want an original death certificate. You should also be contacting The Andersen Firm’s Estate Probate and Settlement team for guidance, if there are any special things that need to be done according to your spouse’s will.

Within the first few weeks after the passing of your spouse, contact their health insurance provider and Medicare to tell them of your spouse’s death, so you can stop paying premiums. Call your spouse’s employer (if applicable, to ask if there were death benefits or other benefits or eligible pensions). Contact your financial adviser to review your financial accounts and confirm any automatic distributions that might be set up. Call life insurance companies, if your spouse had life insurance policies, as well as other insurance companies with which you have policies for property and casualty (home and auto), long-term care and disability coverage. Review bank accounts, bills and credit cards to confirm all expenses are either set up to be paid automatically or will be paid on time. You also need to have access to your spouse’s phone and email accounts to confirm that you are seeing and reviewing all financial notifications.

  1. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney. The Andersen Firm can help guide you through the most difficult time of your life. We have a dedicated Estate Probate and Settlement team to assist you during this difficult and often confusing time.  The Andersen Firm will be able to advise on the issues you need to prioritize, especially to ensure that your finances are still in line, not only for you but for future generations. You may want to include a family member or friend on your phone calls or meetings to help take notes and guide the conversation. That way, you don’t have to remember everything.
  2. Things will be different. After the services and the initial mourning period are over, you may be alone for some time. That’s a big change for many people who lose a spouse. Keep regular communication with friends and family. Consider grief counseling and make regular plans to get yourself out of the house.
  3. There can be a ton of paperwork. Estate Probate and Settlement includes busy work, like changing the name on car titles, utility bills, insurance policies, investment accounts, bank accounts and phone bills, as well as administering your family trusts and making updates to your own estate planning documents.

You need to give yourself plenty of time and space to grieve, rest and remember your loved one. When you are ready, contact The Andersen Firm to Book A Call.

Reference: Investment News (Aug. 11, 2020) “When a spouse passes away”

 

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